Monday, August 17, 2009


This picture appears in the the Beaumont Enterprise depicting a fire that engulfed some apartments I lived in for several years before Pete and I married and several months after until we found our house. Luckily no one was hurt.

When I saw this article this morning, I was taken back to 1989. I was student teaching in The Woodlands. George Mitchell, who founded The Woodlands and is also an alumni from Texas A&M would pay for housing of a couple dozen carefully selected graduating seniors while they student taught. I was lucky to have the opportunity to participate in this highly regarded honor, and I also found a permanent teaching job in this Houston suburb.

But some of the student teachers were not as lucky. I remember vividly the night our apartment complex caught on fire. I was sitting on my bed grading papers and my roommate was preparing for a lesson. Four of us shared a two-bedroom unit and the other girls were in their room, too. It must have been between nine and ten o'clock in the evening when we started to smell something burning. Before we knew what had happened, smoke started to fill our apartment and someone was knocking on our door, yelling "FIRE! Get out immediatly!"

I scanned the room quickly for something to take with me and ended up grabbing my teaching materials. I gathered outside with the rest of the student teachers, some of them wearing nightgowns and crying hysterically. The fire department was already working on the four-alarm blaze. When the fire had been finally put out, it was clear that half of the girls had lost everything inside. We were some of the lucky ones. Our apartment had smoke damage that ruined most of the furniture, but we were very fortunate. Some of the girls lost treasured items, like engagement rings or family memorabilia, and many left their teaching assignments incomplete to go home. They would have to start all over the following semester and graduate late.

I found it hard to go back to that apartment. My roommate decided to stay with her fiance and commute an hour each way daily. I had already gotten my teaching job and was being paid as a full-time sub until I graduated, so I rented a little efficiency apartment. The horror of that night stayed with me for a very long time, and the fear of fire always lurked when I was living in apartments. The cause of our fire was faulty wiring, and the cause of the fire Sunday in my old apartments is undetermined as of now. I pray for all the victims, though~ I know what they've been through.

1 comment:

Jeni said...

You were so lucky. It's amazing how our emotions change as we experience things in life! Empathy is a gift we receive upon surviving incidents like that! That is how we are able to others that go through what we survive. We are then their beacon of hope!
Thank you for sharing your story!